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CAN A WOUNDED ELLEN HEAL A HURTING LIBERIA?

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In a recent interview with the NY Times, President Johnson Sirleaf did not mince words as she demeaned the men of Liberia. She, in essence, said Liberian men are worthless. Ellen: “If I could find enough qualified females, and make changes across the board without upsetting political balances, I would appoint women to lead every one of them.” Is this Ellen's vision for Liberia? Is she yet again contemplating another war where women are pitted against men?

We take offense to Ellen's disparaging remarks. Her abusive marital relation does not in any way give her the right to insult the men of Liberia, especially in her capacity as the President. In fact the entire population over the years has been grossly abused by elected officials and people in whom we trusted, but attacking one another does not benefit anyone. Rather, as a hurting nation, we ought to lift up each other.

I've been told Ellen Johnson Sirleaf often exhibits negative tendencies toward men even in her professional life. Perhaps it's because of wounds inflicted by a violently abusive husband. Decades later, she still recounts the heralding experience in graphic details and speaks of it often. The scars are obvious. We hope and pray she finds healing.

Seemingly, the abuse has affected Ellen's memory; therefore I must remind her of the following: was it not Liberian men that created the environment for you, Ellen, to become an accomplished international figure? Was it not men who made it possible for you to excel in the 1970s to the esteemed position of Minister of Finance? Did men not play a role in electing you to the Senate in the 1980s? Was it not also the vote of men that made you President? And was it not Liberian men that sent Mrs. Angie Elizabeth Brooks to the United Nations in the 1960s where she became President of the General Assembly? Did the men of Liberia not contribute to the success of other Liberian females? Last but not least, was it not the men in leadership that granted suffrage (legal voting rights) to Liberian women long before many nations would even listen to the idea?

Admittedly, there are some Liberian men who have lost their bearings and veered off course; even then, they have not acted to the exclusion of females. Liberian women have partnered with them every step of the way. On many occasions these women took the lead whether as rebel commanders leading vicious killing squads or Ellen Johnson Sirleaf herself heading the gang that launched the brutal 15-year war. Operating as the “Iron Lady” and leader of the NPFL warring faction, Ellen handed down orders to the combatants, including the order to bomb the Executive Mansion and dislodge the sitting President.

In fact Ellen has been a proponent of devious activities that served her interests. She persuaded Gen. Thomas Quiwonkpa to attempt a coup against his friend and brother President Samuel K. Doe which ultimately resulted in the death of both men as well as many innocent civilians. Therefore, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf does not have the moral standing to condemn the men of Liberia nor is she worthy to raise the banner for the proud women of Liberia.

The normally functioning women of Liberia do not wish to see their men disrespected, disgraced and kicked to the curb. And marginalizing the male population is not what the people of Liberia expect from their leader at this critical moment. Proverbs 14:4 states it clearly: “Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests.”

Perhaps Ellen has forgotten that conspicuously absent from their misadventure were the real men who chose not to kill women and children for the sole purpose of acquiring wealth or political power. Real men do not start wars, instead we strive for peace. And if there must be a fight, we will defend our actions, beliefs and honor even at the peril of our lives.

In conclusion, President Johnson Sirleaf's derogatory comments in the NY Times are an affront to every decent Liberian man. However, we have decided to temper anger with prayer that she will be healed of her emotional wounds. Please join us in praying not only for Ellen, but also for our nation as a whole.

Liberia needs a leader who is capable of mending wounds and bridging the divide. Suffering the effects of her own emotional trauma, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is incapable of healing a hurting Liberia where the majority of the population has experienced the worst forms of injustice.

The Author: T. Q. Harris, Jr. is a member of the Free Democratic Party (of Liberia) who is expected to be a Presidential candidate in the 2011 Election. Mr. Harris in 1997 was the Vice Presidential nominee of his Party. He is currently the Chairman of Liberian Contempt UPS. To get more information: www.tqharrisforpresident.com; www.friendsoftq.org; [email protected]; and Phone: (562) 256-4271 Liberia: (231) 6 538827

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